Indiana State Department of Agriculture has released its "Strategic Plan For Agriculture" this week and, according to Indiana Pork Producer Association officials, it sets in motion tremendous opportunity for the state's pork industry in terms of long-term, sustainable growth. It calls for the state to double pork production by 2009. IPPA President Alan Wilhoite, Lebanon, says pork producers are excited that state government finally recognizes pork production as a vital segment of Indiana's economy.

"It's an ambitious plan, but it is something that has been needed for a long time in the state," says Wilhoite. "Indiana pork producers are committed to working with the Department of Agriculture to accomplish this goal."

Pork production is identified as one of seven opportunities for growth. The department's plan calls for state funds to be used to help develop and implement breakthrough technologies to reduce and virtually eliminate odor and manure issues. Wilhoite says environmental and odor issues are always at the top of pork producers' minds and any additional help state government can provide would be beneficial.

Key to a successful pork industry is having pork-processing plants in the state. Indiana producers have access to facilities in Delphi and Logansport, as well as Louisville, Ky. The department's plan is to increase pork-processing capacity by 25 percent in five years.

Opposition to pork production expansion in local communities, both through potential nuisance suits and county zoning ordinances is often a significant challenge says Wilhoite. The strategic plan addresses both issues. It calls for changing Indiana's nuisance-suit laws to provide better protection to livestock producers. In addition, the governor wants county ordinances– that affect livestock production and that are more stringent than state or federal regulations– to be changed to support livestock enterprises.

"We need protection from unwarranted lawsuits if we are to expand our operations," says Wilhoite. "The majority of Hoosiers believe that local control is generally the way county governments should operate. But, livestock production can't survive if every county decides on its own to regulate the livestock industry."

The department's plan also looks to establish an Indiana Livestock Venture Fund– an economic incentive program for producers. The fund would provide livestock producers with a non-debt based form of investment capital to expand operations. "This is a totally new concept, and one that could offer pork producers another source of capital for expansion," says Wilhoite.

Wilhoite encourages pork producers to get involved with the state's new strategic plan. "There needs to be thoughtful discussion among farmers, local officials and the administration on the plan's strategies," adds Wilhoite.

Indiana Pork Producers Association